Each year, the NFL becomes more and more of a passing-dominant league. Quarterbacks and wide receivers are more important in today’s game than they ever have been. While big-name receivers like Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, and Tyreke Hill dominate the conversation when talking about the position, there are three slept-on wideouts that could end up shocking the NFL world in the 2023 season.
Despite not having a stat line that stands out amongst some of the more well-known wide receivers in the league, Richie James was one of the top pass catchers in the NFL last season. He finished the season with 57 catches for 569 yards and four touchdowns. James struggled to make his way into the starting lineup, however, when he did get a chance to take the field, he made the most of it.
James led the league in catch rate over expected with +11%. Along with this, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs over the offseason. With Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback and the Chiefs having a weak wide receiver room heading into the 2023 season, there is a strong chance that James could end up having a breakout season.
Elijah Moore has gotten off to a slow start to his NFL career after being the 34th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. At times with the New York Jets, he struggled to remain in the starting lineup and would have some issues with the starting quarterback of the team Zach Wilson. He finished the season pulling in 37 passes for 44 yards and one touchdown. It was very concerning that Moore took such a large step back from his rookie season, especially when taking into account that he played five more games in the 2022 season.
Shortly after acquiring Aaron Rodgers, the Jets would trade Moore to the Cleveland Browns. With Moore having an adequate quarterback for the first time in his short NFL career in the 2023 season, he could end up having a huge year with the Browns. He will be second on the depth chart in the Browns wide receiver room, behind only Amari Cooper. With Moore and the Browns having a lot to prove this season, they both could end up taking the league by storm.
The final top underrated wide receiver is Terry McLaurin. Had McLaurin been drafted by a different team, there is a chance that he could be one of the most talked about wideouts the league has to offer. He does not lack the talent to be in the conversation, however, his stat line does not match up with some of the other top talents at the position.
However, this is not entirely McLaurin’s fault. Throughout his stint with the Washington Commanders, McLaurin has been forced to have a revolving door at the quarterback position. As a result of this, he has not been able to build chemistry with his quarterback like many of the other elite wide receivers in the league have gotten the chance to do.
Despite this, he has still performed very well since joining the league. Last season, he recorded 77 receptions for 1191 yards and five touchdowns. While the inconsistent quarterback play likely will continue this season, it once again will not be enough to hold him back from being one of the top-performing wide receivers in the league.
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